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Rochester Education Foundation:  Because every child deserves a great education.
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11th Annual Partnership Awards
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Our sincere thanks to the many local companies, individuals and organizations that supported the Partnership Awards Dinner:

GOLD sponsors
Eastman Kodak Company
Clark Patterson Associates

SILVER sponsors
Association of Supervisors and Administrators of Rochester
First Federal
Harris Beach
Rochester Area Community Foundation
Xerox Corporation

BRONZE sponsors
Advantage Federal Credit Union
Forsythe, Howe, O'Dwyer, Kalb and Murphy PC
Harter, Secrest and Emery LLP
Dennis Kessler
LaBella Associates
Lawyers for Learning
Monroe Community College
Monroe Title Insurance Company
Rochester Institute of Technology
Passero Associates

Bausch and Lomb
Donald and Barbara Bergmann
Ed Lopez
Nazareth College
University of Rochester

Buckingham Properties
Flaum Management Company, Inc.
Frank Iacovangelo
Reynolds LP
Richard Sands

IN-KIND support
Rochester City School District
The Daily Record

2006 Partnership Awards Dinner

On November 1, 2006, approximately 200 people attended the first Rochester Education Foundation Partnership Awards dinner at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center. The centerpiece of the evening was the presentation of awards to Judge Michael Telesca, Dr. Walter Cooper, Lawyers for Learning, and Xerox for their longstanding support of and partnerships with Rochester city school students.

Diana Irizzary and Yohannes Assefa
Diana Irizzary, chair of Lawyers for Learning, accepts REF's Sustained Partnership Award from Yohannes Assefa.

The honorees were praised for their activities and each received a framed print created by the students of School 33. The Wilson String Ensemble entertained the attendees during a reception prior to dinner.

County Executive Maggie Brooks praised the honorees for their valuable work, and commented on the importance of supporting students. Janet Lomax of News 10NBC, the emcee for the evening, noted her own family's support of education and the importance of supporting students in school.

Lawyers for Learning, which involves more than 100 members of the legal profession, received REF's Sustained Partnership Award. The organization's members each devote at least one hour per week to the program, presenting positive role models for students as they work with students on reading and math. The group also offers other services to the school and families of students, including sponsoring reading contests, distributing free books and offering law-related clinics. Diana Irizzary, chair of Lawyers for Learning and Support Magistrate for Monroe County Family Court, accepted the award for the group.

Jefferson student Daquain Asbury, center, with his mentor, Mark Annunziata (far right), RCSD Superintendent Manuel Rivera (bottom right), Xerox's Virginia Cornyn, and REF's Patricia Braus (far left).

Daquain Asbury, a junior at Jefferson High School, expressed the sentiment of many when he praised the importance of programs such as Lawyers for Learning. He applauded the hard work of his mentor, Mark Annunziata, a member of the Lawyers for Learning group. He noted that Mr. Annunziata had made a difference in his life by being there for him since 1999. He noted that Mr. Annunziata had exposed him to new experiences, supported him and encouraged his success. "Now I am an honor role student," he said, thanking his mentor for his support.

REF's made its Business Partnership Award to the Xerox Corporation, and it was accepted by Virginia Cornyn, Manager of Community Relations for Xerox. Ms. Cornyn noted that Xerox had launched its Science Consultant program in 1968, making it, perhaps, the oldest program of its type in the United States. The Science Consultant program sends Xerox scientists and engineers into elementary schools twice a month to engage young learners in earth science, physics and other scientific disciplines. In 2005, Xerox consultants made 277 class visits to 350 students in 11 city schools.

Virginia Cornyn
Virginia Cornyn accepts REF's Business Partnership Award on behalf of the Xerox Corporation.

As part of this effort, Xerox sponsors the Engineering Structures Challenge, the Invention Convention, and recognizes individual accomplishment by way of its Student Achievement Award. Xerox also sponsors FIRST robotics teams at two city high schools: Wilson and Franklin. Each year, 20 to 30 dedicated engineering mentors work long hours well beyond work time to help students in their group as they design and construct original robot models in a 6-week period. Each year Xerox provides funding for the teams to cover the construction and competition costs of student-designed robots.

Adrienne Emerson, a graduate of Wilson High School and a member of the FIRST robotics team, discussed the way the program changed her life. When she joined the FIRST team, she noted that she had never considered a career in engineering and did not know what it might mean. Her experience on the team launched her career, she said. After graduating from Wilson, she moved on to Clarkson University, where she helped develop a FIRST team in the community. Now she is working as a process engineer in Geneva, NY. She noted that she is the only woman serving in that capacity, and thanked her Xerox mentors for the FIRST experience that gave her the knowledge and confidence to do the job.

Adrienne Emerson spoke passionately about the life-changing experience she had with the Xerox-sponsored FIRST robotics team.

Judge Michael Telesca received REF's Lifetime Commitment to Children and Education award. Judge Telesca was not able to attend the event, but he sent a letter describing his pride in being a city school graduate and the support he received while growing up that enabled him to become a success. Judge Telesca has served as a US District Court Judge since 1982, forging a reputation for courage, independence and intelligence. The Monroe County Bar Association recently announced that the new location of the non-profit legal services programs in downtown Rochester would be known as the "Michael A. Telesca Center for Justice". In announcing the naming of the center on June 2006, Bar President Jill Schultz said "Judge Telesca is a special man and a giant of our judiciary."

Dr. Walter Cooper also received REF's Lifetime Commitment to Children and Education Award. Dr. Cooper was the first African-American to receive a Ph.D in Physical Chemistry at the University of Rochester. He enjoyed an illustrious career as a scientist at Eastman Kodak Research Laboratories, including service as manager of the office of Technical Communications, but he made engagement in the community a way of life. Dr. Cooper was a founder of Rochester's Urban Suburban program in 1973. He was also a founder of the Rochester Urban League, and then president of the Rochester Urban League. Upon retiring, Dr. Cooper joined the Board of Regents for New York State, serving from 1988 to 1997. When there was a need to move forward at Franklin High School, Dr. Cooper chaired the strategic planning group for Franklin High School's redesign in 1999.

Dr. Walter Cooper accepts REF's Lifetime Commitment to Children and Education Award from Yohannes Assefa.

Dr. Cooper discussed his upbringing as the child of parents who were not high school or college graduates. He urged the group not to accept excuses for the failure of young people to learn, or for their parents to encourage them to learn. Dr. Cooper noted that there is a great deal of work that remains in the effort to educate all young people to a high standard, and he urged us all to engage in that work.

The Partnership Awards dinner was sponsored by the Rochester Education Foundation. Yohannes Assefa, an attorney at Harris Beach, chaired the event committee, which also included Pat Braus, Dina Markowitz, Nan Westervelt, Gaynelle Wethers and Heidi Zimmer-Meyer.

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